Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Much Of A Master Photographer Are You?

How Much Of A Master Photographer Are You?

One very cool feature of our upcoming PhotoPro Expo is the "LIVE" juried print judging taking place on Thursday, February 2, 2012.

Master Photographer

I entered my first print judging way back in 1978 - I was just a babe back then :~) But, what a thrill it was to watch the images being judged and hear the judges comments.  It is one of the best learning experiences one can have in their professional careers. 

One Of The Best Learning Experiences Ever!

Time To LearnWhen you enter print competition, you set the bar higher on your own work.  You learn what you need to do to improve your work, make those improvements and score higher the next time around. The net benefit for you and your business is that by raising that bar on quality, your raise the quality bar for your clients work too.  You'll be amazed at how much better your delivered images look going out the door once you begin participating in Print Competition.

PhotoPro Epos's Print Completion has three components; 1 - the Actual Judging, 2 – the Clubhouse Print Lounge where you get the chance to bet on the judges scores maybe winning you some big bucks, and 3 - our Coach's Corner where you can get your images reviewed and critiqued by expert and successful image makers.

Enter The Juried Competition – Here’s How

I've discussed the actual print competition recently at DigitalProTalk [link].  You can also download all the details and rules right here. But the other cool thing we're doing this year is introducing our Digital Cafe Print Lounge where you can bet against the judges as to what the print score will be.

Be Part Of The Fun – Bet To Win!

Clubhouse Print LoungeWe are piping all the digital images into Clubhouse Print Lounge along with full audio of all the judges scores and comments.  You can buy into a "betting" round for only $10 and are allowed to select scores for 20 images. The person in that betting round with the most scores closest to the judges will split the pot - not bad.

This whole thing should be a "hoot". It was originally tried last year at  New Orleans Convention and went over like gangbusters.  To assure the success of our Print Lounge betting activities, my good friend, Ralph Romaguera and his wife Cindy, who were the originators and very instrumental in the success of New Orleans competition are flying up to be sure things go smoothly for us too.  You don’t want to miss the fun and it should be a "hoot"!

Coaches’ Corner – Critique and Review

Coach's CornerThe third component of our print competition is our Coach's Corner image review.  You do not have to enter the print competition to participate in our Coach's Corner. Any one attending PhotoPro Expo or even just visiting the Tradeshow Expo is welcomed to bring their images by for review.

All you need to do is show up with your portfolio of images. Your image portfolio can be comprised of loose prints at least 8x10 inches or larger, an album, or even presented on your iPad or laptop computer.

To participate in our Coach's Corner you'll need to drop LaDawn an email at ladawn@ziser.com so she can get you scheduled with one of our Master Image Makers and Coach for your personal critique. 

That’s it gang – join the FUN - it’s going to be a great time!  -David

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts For 2011

Good Morning Everybody,

With all the rushing around yesterday (Thursday) I forgot to see if this post went up. Soooo…. how about we get it up today. –David

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As you know the first day from a big is always the busiest and that sure is true around here today.  Like I mentioned yesterday, we are “pedal to the medal” doing the last major push for my BIG convention in two weeks [link].

PhotoPro Expo picsIn spite of the craziness around here, I was up early this morning and reviewed ALL 520 posts from last year to see which posts were the most popular.  I really like putting these Top 10 lists together because it really shows me what our DPT readers enjoy the most.

Technique Tuesdays are always a big favorite but in looking over all last year’s posts, it looks like most folks really like the Business Day Thursday posts too.

Originally I was looking at the most commented posts of the year, but curiously enough, not many of our DPT readers spend much time commenting.  I still haven’t quite figured that out.  You would think with about 8,000 daily viewers a few more would leave a comment or two – I feel so unloved ;~)  Actually I think it comes down to the fact that we just have a lot of very quiet readers that just like absorbing the content – and that’s a good thing too.

So, that being said, let’s get right to today’s Top Ten list.

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts For 2011

Top 10 -21. 5 Flash/Camera Techniques To Improve Your Lighting [link]

2. A Huge Success! Digital Design, Now Easier Than Ever [link]

3. The Most Important Tool In Your Gear Bag [link]

4. 5 Of My All Time Favorite Wedding Images–Exposed At Last! [link]

5. Uncle Harry and Cousin Mary - Get Out Of My Way! [link]

6. You've got to come Back With the Shot [link]

7. Business Day Thursday: Engage With The Engaged [link]

8. Business Day Thursday: Make Yourself Famous Fast! [link]

9. After The Wedding: Sales flow/Workflow Part 7 – 10 Steps To Getting The Order Out The Door [link]

10. Business Day Thursday: Selling The Wendy’s Way [link]

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I really hope you enjoy the read and re-reads – lot’s of good stuff there.  I’ve got to get back to my PhotoPro Expo plans so have a good one and I’ll see you on Monday.

Adios, David

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Into The Light"

Into The Light2

"Into The Light"
© David A. Ziser

I made this image during a flight home from New York a few years ago. We had to travel through Detroit which has completed a brand new airport - and, boy, is it a cool airport. Walking through the long corridor connecting two of the terminals was a kick and kind of reminiscent of the walk to the United terminal at O'Hare airport.

I managed to pull off this shot while there were not too many people in the scene. It was mid-day Saturday and travel traffic was down a bit for the weekend.

The challenge was timing the lights just right to get the beautiful rich colors I wanted to capture in the final image. I don't mind the slight blur of the travellers, in fact I think it adds a sense of motion to the scene. Anyway, I hope you like the urban landscape captured here.

Camera specs: Canon 40D Fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 18mm, F 3.5 @ 1/25 second, ISO 500. Enjoy! -David

100 Year Memory; Recover Data From Anything; My Interview With B&H; and More

Good Late Afternoon Everybody,

Imaging USA2We wrapped up the Imaging USA Convention yesterday making our rounds through the tradeshow one more time. In addition to all the frame and album manufactures, processing labs, my favorite booths to visit are the photo dealers like Midwest Photo Exchange and Dury's.  I've been a friend of both companies for many years and they both always have a great deal or two.  

Yesterday I picked up a SanDisk 32 gig compact flash card for only $89!  It amazes me how much the cost of media has dropped over the years. I can still remember about 10 years ago purchasing my first 1 gig flash card for, get this, $700!!!!!!

Brand New Memory Storage

SanDisk Memory Vault 2I'll tell you, one of the more interesting things I saw at the Dury's booth was the brand new SanDisk Memory Vault.  The SanDisk Memory Vault is nicely packaged flash memory that SanDisk says will archive anything, including photographs, for 100 years!  That's quite a claim, but if true we finally have a much safer way to store our valuable images other than the hard drive, DVD, or Blu-Ray alternatives. Definitely a very interring product to consider.

Data Recovery Solutions For Everything

Drive Savers - DAZ -DarrenOK, the SanDisk Memory Vault looks cool but what if it fails?  I also stopped by and talked with Darren at DriveSavers.  I've also been familiar with DriveSavers for a number of years and even used their services a several years ago to recover one of my hard drives.  Yes, they recovered all of my data and have a great reputation of doing just that.

What turned our conversation interesting was when Darren mentioned that they also recover data from dropped, drowned, or otherwise electronically neutered iPads and iPhones. That was news to me and I wanted to pass it along to you.  The bottom line is that Drive Savers can recover data from just about any device that can store data - a good thing to know.  You can get full details here.

The Biggest and Best and Most Fun In The Midwest!

PartiesWe just got back to Cincinnati, Ohio a few hours ago and went right to work gearing up for our upcoming PhotoPro Expo 2012

These next two weeks are the big "push" weeks leading up to the convention. As of last weekend, PhotoPro Expo 2012 is the largest photographic convention and exhibition in the Midwest! 

We should easily hit our goal of 700 attendees and tradeshow visitors.  That's great news to all the vendors at our sold out Expo Tradeshow too. I sure hope you'll plan to come by.

Check Out My Interview With B&H

B and H InsightsYep, I've been doing a lot of interviews the last week or two.  My interview at B&H Insights [link] just went “LIVE” It went a little long – what’s new :~) and they broke it into two parts.  You can catch Part 1 right here.

Here are 4 of the 11 questions I answer in that interview:

  • B&H: You’ve been doing this (wedding & portrait photography) for a long time. What are the three biggest changes or turning points in the W&P industry that you’ve seen over the span of your career?
  • B&H: Who inspired you in the past, and does anyone inspire you now?
  • B&H: What advice do you have for today's up-and-coming photographers who want to enter this very competitive field?
  • B&H: We know you are a W&P guy, but we see plenty of landscape and cityscape images on your blog, Digital Pro Talk. Is there a different thought process that goes into your making of personal images versus “business” images? Also, do you have a favorite place where you’ve taken photos?

Check it out right here, I think you'll enjoy the read.

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Hey gang, I'm cutting it a bit short today since we've just got home and we need to tend to a few more things before the end of business day.  How about I see you tomorrow for a very special Business Day Thursday.

I'll see you then,  David

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Hobbit's Hidden Treasure"

0002-How Slow-IMG_2194-Edit-Edit

"Hobbit's Hidden Treasure"
©David A. Ziser

I captured this image while visiting Multnomah Falls a few years ago. It still remains one of my favorite images from that wonderful trip to the Columbia River Valley near Portland, Oregon. 

This image was also featured in a Technique Tuesday I did where I was discussing extremely slow hand-held shutter speeds. How slow – how about 1/3 second.  Yes, handheld.  You can catch that TTues episode right here. I love blurring flowing water and Multnomah Falls is the perfect place to do just that.

It was this motion blur together with the water's misty spray in the bright late morning sun which provided a hint of mystery to the shot. A tweak or two in Lightroom finished the image's treatment weaving the colors and textures into their artistic presentation.

Camera specs; Canon 5D Mark II fitted with 24-105mm IS lens at 24mm, F22 @ 1/3 second (handheld), ISO 50. Enjoy! -David

24 Hours Only! $129 For All Three Days, The Best Deal EVER on PhotoPro Expo!

Hey gang, I just got word that we are very close to selling out the room block at the Marriott Hotel for our upcoming PhotoPro Expo happing in two weeks. PhotoPro Expo is now officially the largest convention and tradeshow in the Midwest.

PhotoProExpo pics[4]

If you are a photographer, aspiring or pro, and want to have a great time learning from the top trainers, you need to be at this show.

Our tradeshow is totally sold out with the top vendors in the country being available to answer your questions and show you their latest merchandise or software.  Here is the list of all those exhibiting at our convention. OK, if you have read this far, I’ve got a little surprise for you. For the next 24 hours, if you use Promo Code PPE24HR, you can save $150 off the regular price of $279.  That’s right, you can attend the entire convention for only $129.  The Promo Code is starting right now! But won’t be available for long! You have only 24 hours or until 9:00 am EST to take advantage of this premium price!

Plan to stay for Jerry Ghionis’ program on Monday – your total cost  is only $229 – it truly doesn’t get any better than that!  That was our special Early Bird promo price way back in July.  I’m bringing it back for only 24 hours only so by tomorrow morning, this price goes up in smoke.  If you are even thinking in the slightest that you may come to the convention, this is the time to finalize you decision and nail down the best price ever!

Technique Tuesday: Top 10 Hits of 2011

Top Ten TTues Posts

Good Morning Everybody,

I’m a little light on my report from Imaging USA today.  I was in meetings most of the day and attended the tradeshow late in the day.  I plan to be there all day today so I hope to have more to report tomorrow.

At the beginning of a new year many sites will report top 10 lists on about everything.  Hey, DigitalProTalk is no different ;~)  This is the week for my listings of DPT’s top 10 lists.

For today’s post I spent quite a bit of time reviewing ALL the Technique Tuesday posts from last year, checking the stats, and arranging the posts in order from most viewed tutorials. 

The topics range from off-camera lighting with small speedlights, lighting in lousy locations, my favorite wedding images, Lightroom tips and tricks, and more.  All told, these videos give you about 4 hours of great information. I sure hope you enjoy revisiting each of the links listed today.

TOP 10 Technique Tuesdays For 2011

1 . Trigger Happy Budget Flashes -

2. Impossible Location - Amazing Portraits

3. Supercharge Your Portable Speedlight's

4. You Won't Believe Your Eyes

5. 5 Steps To Better Wedding Portraits

6. Oh, The Lightroom Auto Mask Feature – I Love You, I Hate You!

7.  Light Painting With Lightroom 3

8. 5 Of My Favorite All Time Wedding Images

9. I Just Feel So Vibrant Today!

10. Super Bowls & Weddings

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  The programing starts early this morning and I need to hit the road to get to the show. I still have nearly half the show to cover and hope to share with you the more interesting happenings from the show tomorrow.

How about I plan to see you same time, same place tomorrow.  Have a great one and I’ll see you then.

Keep your pixels smiling -David

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Sunrise Over The Big Easy"

Sunrise Over The Big EasyIMG_6798-Edit

"Sunrise Over The Big Easy"
© David A. Ziser

This was the view from our hotel room window early Saturday morning. The sunrise gave us very strong and very vibrant colors in it’s earliest moments.  We are on the 19th floor of the hotel and with our room being in a corner of the hotel floor plan, I thought that including the left wall of the hotel in the composition worked quite well. 

I like how the lines of the wall lead you right into the horizon and the rising sun. But at the same time the viewer may resent the fact that I cut off the left side of the sunrise too.  The hint of the reflections in the windows carry the color into the building.

I struggled with the crop but I think this composition serves the image best.  Hope you enjoy it.

Camera specs: Canon 7 D fitted with Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm, F4.5 @ 1/13 second, ISO 1000.  Enjoy!  -David

Quick Hit Monday: Imaging USA Update; I’m In Polish; 5 Questions; and Great Portrait Tips!

Good Morning Everybody,

New Orleans sunriseWe’ve been enjoying the last few days in the Big Easy and especially some great sunrises. It’s always a good time when your in New Orleans and the home team is in the playoffs. Alas, even though the Saints lost, it was still a blast to be cheering with the local fans who are about the most excitable and energetic group of sports fans you can hang with. 

The last time we were in New Orleans was the weekend the Saints won the Super Bowl – you talk about a town going wild!!!  Anyway, we always have a great time in this city.

Hey gang, I’ve got a convention to get to so let’s get right to today’s post.

Quick Imaging USA Update

The Imaging USA convention got off to a good start yesterday with packed speaker rooms and a lively tradeshow.  I poked my head into Jerry Ghionis’ room which was packed with about 800+ attendees listening to the wedding master. 

Oh, BTW, that the same Jerry Ghionis that’s coming to our PhotoPro Expo in two weeks.  So….. if you are reading this today and are NOT in New Orleans, then plan to hear Jerry and 15 other great speakers, including Scott Kelby, Joel Grimes, and Vincent LaForet February 3 – 5, 2012.  Click the link to the right for all the info.

Oh, then yesterday evening, we attended our friend, Drake Busath’s packed house program.  Soft spoken Drake is one of the top portrait photographers working today.  His studio does well over 2M a year. He is also one of the most humorous people we know.  You can even see a bit of that humor coming out in his photography like this family portrait below with the “run-a-way” baby – I love it!  His presentation was fabulous.

Family Portrait Drake

I Guess This Makes Me An International Author

DAZ with Polish CBTL bookThe other day I received an envelope from Peachpit, my favorite book publisher.  Peachpit is the company that prints all the Kelby Media books and also printed my best selling “Captured By The Light” wedding book last year.

Anyway, I opened the envelope and found a brand new version of my book – in POLISH! It was a great surprise so, to any of our Polish readers out there, pick it up and give it a read – I think you’ll love it.  And if you already have a copy tell me what you think in the comment section below – I’d love to hear from you.

5 Questions For David Ziser

A few weeks ago, fellow blogging buddy, Rick Sammon asked me to do a guest blog post for him.  I was happy to oblige. Here is a quick excerpt from the interview:

Ziser pic“… I’m not surprised by remarks I hear from photographic labs across the country.  Most feel the quality of wedding photography is at a low watermark right now. But most feel that that will change in the not too distant future.  It's just that there are SOOOO many new shooters that the quality level is skewed in their direction.  As they adapt, continue to learn and grow in the profession, so will their skill set and the quality of their photography. 

I think part of the reason the quality of wedding photography has dropped so low is that the aspiring pro doesn't know where to go to get the education they need to really excel in their craft. 

Photographers today really want to learn and think the only place to get that much needed education is on the web.  Web education is good but only up to a point. There is something special about attending programs and learning from the top photographic masters in person, for example, Scott Kelby, Vincent Laforet, Joe McNally, Jay Maisel, and of course, Rick Sammon. I think that more intimate connect with the speaker in a live setting greatly enhances the learning experience.  You know, when you hear these programs in person, the message just sticks with you in a way that is not easily forgotten.”  Uhmmm… I guess that's why all of us, around 10,000 are at Imaging USA ;~)

You can catch all of my 5 answers over at Rick Sammon’s blog right here

5 Tips On How To Shoot Killer Portrait Photography

And speaking of education, check out this link right here.  It’s full of Jim Jordan’s  great images, and important tips on how to make your portraits looks great.

Jim Jordan is a widely sought-after fashion, celebrity, lifestyle, and Jim Jordan pickids photographer based out of Los Angeles and New York City. Some of his notable clients include Vogue, Elle, J.Crew, and Mercedes Benz. He’s also taken portraits for major celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Berrymore, and Charlize Theron.

You’ll enjoy the read  at Photo Shelter right here.

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got a convention to get to.  If you see me walking the trade show today, come on up and say HI, I’d love to visit.

Have a great rest of the day and I’ll plan to see you tomorrow for a very special Technique Tuesday.

Adios everybody,  David

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Man of the Year"

MAn Of The Year"Man of the Year"
©David A. Ziser

Is this a great example of leading lines or what!  Look at how all the structure in the ceiling lead you right to our subject.  Look too how the line of the railing brings your eye directly to the subject.

I still remember making this image years ago, back in my film days.  I was a huge fan of the 40nn Distagon lens on my Hasselblad.  It’s super wide angle field of view did wonders to the composition in many of the locations I worked in.

The main challenge was not the composition, it was the lighting.  The wide angle lens was showing too much of the “space”.  That meant having an assistant holding the light was out of the question – remember, no Photoshop back then.

I solved my problem by placing my radio controlled Metz CT-1 strobe on one of the steps of the stairway you see on the left.  My  low camera angle – I was on the lower stairway framing up the groom – was just low enough to hide the strobe firing on the left.  The wall was still illuminated but I didn’t think that detracted from the image.

And speaking of lighting, notice too the accent light on the back of the groom’s face and neck.  That's obviously is coming in from the strong window light pouring in from behind the groom.

All in all, we have a very dynamic portrait of the groom framed against the wonderful architecture of the building with all lines leading directly to him – I think a very cool image.

Camera specs: Hasselblad 500 CM fitted with 40mm Distagon lens, F 5.6 @ 1/30 second, Kodak Vericolor 800 film.  Enjoy!  -David

Lightroom 4 – A Few of My Favorite Things

Good Morning Everybody,

New OrleansLaDawn and I were up well before the crack of dawn this morning working to get everything packed for Imaging USA Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our plane leaves shortly after nine o'clock this morning so I went to get this blog post up before we head out the door.

As you all know, Adobe launched the Lightroom 4 Public Beta this past Tuesday. I quickly downloaded a copy, installed it, and fired it up to check out all the new features. I have to tell you, my first impression is that I love it. In today's post I thought I would give you a quick listing of some of my favorite features and invite you to give them a try. Why don't we get right to it.

Lightroom 4 – A Few of My Favorite Things

1. If you read my blog post on Wednesday you know I'm really stoked about the new video features and how I plan to make that work with the brand-new Book module. You can check out my video tutorial on those features right here.

New Sliders2. Right off the bat let me say that I really don't miss the Recovery and Fill Light sliders at all - yes, they're gone.  Two new sliders have taken their place.  That would be the Highlight slider and the Shadow slider. Both worked eminently better than with the previous Recovery and Fill Light sliders. I like the fact that I have both negative and positive control with the new sliders.

3. I also like the addition of the new Whites and Blacks sliders. Once again I have negative and positive image control with these two sliders when establishing both the white point and my black point of the scene.

4. I haven't had a lot of time to play with it because I've never been a huge fan of the Clarity slider. But while watching Matt Kloskowski and Adobe's LR4 product manager, Tom Hogarty, the subject of the Clarity slider came up. In Lightroom 3 it apparently created a lot of halos around the edge of the subjects when pushed to its limit. I like how Tom phrased it during his broadcast with Matt the other day – he said; “We've now made it into the "magical" Clarity slider.” In his remark and in his demonstration he also implied how you can really process single exposures into HDR-like images with its new functionality. I better spend a little bit more time with the new Clarity slider and see how I like it.

5. Lightroom 3 uses process version 2010. In Lightroom 4 that's been upgraded to process version 2012. My first impression is that the new process version tweaks the images slightly better than the already very good 2010 process version.

New adjustment Brush6. I think one of the huge improvements in Lightroom 4 is a fact that now we have the complete set of Develop tools available under the adjustment brush and also the gradient tool. That means that we can selectively warm or cool parts of the image and apply noise reduction and or moiré removal on selected parts of the image. Definitely a great plus for the new release.

7. One of the coolest improvements in the new version is and how Lightroom 4 handles video clips. Now we can easily  trim our videos, adjust exposure and color balance, and stylize clips in many cool ways for some great new video effects. And, it's all very easy and very fast to accomplish.

8. I was never a big fan of the Print module in the previous versions of Lightroom. But, I think the new Book module offers some very fascinating possibilities to the event photographer. I hope, down the road, that Adobe will tie it to more publishing services than just Blurb. I foresee other album publishing companies working with Adobe to make this happen. In fact, I just called my buddies at Zookbinders to see how we might get Zookbinders incorporated into the Book module of Lightroom 4.

9. I think another great feature in Lightroom 4 is a fact that Adobe has simplified the e-mailing process of sending images directly from Lightroom. I'm thrilled to see that. It should make it a piece of cake now for us to review images with our clients giving them a peek at their finished image and a chance to approve special artwork all at the same time. Don't get me wrong.  Now we have a very easy way to communicate with the client confirming that everything was done to their liking before we go to press.

10.  Although this is a minor point, I also like how the Preset folder is now divided into smaller sub-folders making it easier to find presets that we will use in our projects.

So, there you have it those are my Top 10 favorite improvements that I see in Lightroom 4.

Now Just 3 Minor Gripes

Only 3 GripesNow, having said that and keeping in my mind that my mother always said, "If you can’t say something good about somebody, then don't say anything at all."  Well, I've said 10 things in a row so now I want to get three LR4 gripes off my chest. Maybe Adobe will get these three things fixed before the final release of Lightroom 4 ;~)  Here we go.

1.  Lightroom 4 still does not work on a network and, from what I hear, it never will. It has to do with the internal workings of the software itself which means that a networked Lightroom is not happening in the foreseeable future at all.

2.  I sure wish Adobe would pay attention to the Spot Removal tool. I find it a very in-elegant solution for removing small spots from an image when compared to the other very elegant tools that Lightroom 4 offers. I would love to see it work like the Rubber Stamp/Clone brush in Photoshop. That sure would make post-production chores much easier in Lightroom and just avoid another trip over to Photoshop.

3.  One of the first tests I tried a Lightroom 4 was the Adjustment brush with the Auto Mask checked. I wanted to see if that functionality had been improved in any way. I always hated the artifacting I got around the edges on some of the images, particularly when I was making heavy adjustments to that image. I blogged my work-around here DigitalProTalk months ago which, actually works great. I guess I'll continue to do it the same way as I did it in Lightroom 3.  Not a big thing but sure would like to see an improvement on the next version or in the actual release version of Lightroom 4.

Okay, only three gripes for Lightroom 4 - not bad. But I will tell you that they are really only minor gripes. Overall I'm thrilled with the new functionality of this new version.

What I'm seeing with my brief experience of working with Lightroom 4 is that it does the absolute best job ever of letting me fine tune my images exactly the way I want them.  Adobe just added new functionality to Lightroom 4 but, they also improved much of the functionality that was already available by a substantial amount. The result for us, ladies and gentlemen, is that now we have an even more sleek set of digital tools at our disposal which means we can make our images really sing! I sure hope you'll give it a try.

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Hey gang , that's it for me today. We've got a plane to catch in the next couple minutes and we're heading out the door shortly. We'll be hanging out at Imaging USA from Saturday through next Tuesday. You will find me mostly hanging out around the tradeshow.  If you spot me, come on up and say Hi.

The bags are packed and were out the door. LaDawn is giving me the high sign that our ride has arrived. How about I see everybody next Monday from New Orleans – all my Cajun pixels willing.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you then,

David

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Beauty All Around"

Rebecca MOG Ceiling (1)

"Beauty All Around"
© David A. Ziser

This is one of my favorite “fisheye” images made a few years ago. I love the "dramatics" of this image created with my Nikon D1x which I owned a few years ago before I made the Canon switch.

The camera was fitted with Nikon's Fisheye lens - see fisheye lens article below - exposure was made with the naturally occurring illumination from the lighting in the church and the light streaming in from the stain glass window you see on the left.. The very low angle – I was practically on the floor -  picked up what looks like a ceiling panorama of the wonderful architecture of this beautiful church.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with Nikkor 8mm Fisheye lens, F5.6 @1/20 second, ISO 800. Enjoy! --David

Make BIG Money Being A Shoot and Burn Photographer – Part 2

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I can’t believe that as I write today’s post, we are packing again. Early tomorrow we head to New Orleans for the big Imaging USA Convention.  It will be great to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a long time, explore the trade show for the latest, greatest new software and photography equipment, listen to a few new speaker presentations and taste that amazing Cajun cuisine once again – yum!

We head out bright and early tomorrow morning so let’s get right to today’s post.  Here we go…

Make BIG Money Being A Shoot and Burn Photographer – Part 2

Shoot and Burn PhotographyLast week I started a conversation about how the evolution of wedding photography has turned into a “Shoot and Burn” world [link].  Wedding sales are down, people are giving their work away, and the quality of wedding photography has dropped dramatically in the last 6-7 years.

I also mentioned that we “main street” photographers needed a Reality Check and that the only way to buck the trend was to join the masses of “shoot and Burn” photographers.  Once again, here is the link to last week’s post.

In that post I also pointed up some good suggestions on how to join the “Shoot and Burn” crowd but still be profitable in the process.  I’d like to take the topic of profitability a bit further today.

Last week, I suggested that if you wanted to be a “Shoot and Burn” photographer, the best way to increase those profits was to charge separately for all the additional services that go into delivering a quality collection of images to the client.  But how can we raise the profitability stakes even higher?

Walking Away From The Sale Is No Way To Do Business!

Money On TableLast week I stressed how “Shoot and Burn” photographers leave way too much money on the table. They just never even consider an upsell.  For most, it’s about shooting the wedding, burning the images on a DVD – images that have received little or no post-production processing or enhancement, and delivering a mostly substandard product to the client.   

I have to admit, I am on my soap box again, but it surprises me, no it actually saddens me that so many of the new breed of wedding photographers don’t take enough pride in their work and their products to deliver the best they can to their clients.

Let’s let that one lay for a bit and let’s change gears to the “Shoot and Burn” photographer that does care about their photography and the final collection of images they deliver to their clients. I hope that includes everybody reading this post today. 

I’m going to direct today’s post to all “Shoot and Burn” photographers but ALL the ideas and suggestions I put out there today will work for ALL wedding photographers.

Before A Client Buys Our Service, We Need To Sell Our Service

Let’s go back to square one.  If you are a “Shoot and Burn” photographer, what process do you go through to book the wedding?  I suspect it’s a quick conversation, perhaps even at Starbucks, a handshake and then on to the wedding several months later. My question is why so little effort is put into the pre-sell?

In my client consultations, I take the time to educate my client on the full range of products and services we offer.  The “Shoot and Burn” photographer needs to do the same.  The problem is that many have no additional products to offer. 

OK folks, this is where the rubber meets the road. And this is true for ALL photographers including “Shoot and Burn” photographers.  If you want your sales and profits to gain traction, it’s time to develop and implement products and services your client WANTS to buy!

Gaining Traction In Sales and Profits

Blog StatisticsWhat are some of the easiest services to offer for any “Shoot and Burn Photographer?”  My gosh, that’s an easy one.  If someone is going to offer their S&B services for the wedding, why not offer your client you S&B services for all the events that lead up to the wedding.

For instance:

  • Bridal showers.
  • Engagement sessions.
  • The Engagement Party.
  • The Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.
  • Sunday brunch after the wedding.

These are all perfect no muss, no fuss S&B opportunities. And, any, some, or all can be bundled together for a greater package sale up front.

Now Put A Little Meat On Those Skinny Sales Bones

Muscle GuyAnd that’s exactly want an S&B photographer is offering their wedding client – a “skin and bones” coverage.  Like I said last week – a lot of money is left on the table by the S&B photographer.

By adding “meat” or products to your S&B services it’s really easy to grow your sales. Let’s say you contract your client for a bundled package that includes the wedding coverage and an engagement session.  Why not take that time you spend on the engagement session and leverage that time into greater sales by offering some cool products your client would love.

For instance:

  • A Sign-up photo board for the wedding.
  • An engagement album the clients can sign at the wedding reception.
  • “Save the date” items.
  • An exciting DVD via, say Animoto, that the client can enjoy on their big screen TV.
  • Additional stylized* 8x10’s and 5x7’s the client can display in their home or office.

* By “stylized” I mean enhancing the image with a special boarder, text or technique that enhances the image making it even more special to the client. Sure, then can easily get additional prints made at the local Wal-Mart, but offering something a bit more artistic may easily get them to one more “YES” and you watch your sales grow.

Now A more “Meaty” Wedding Coverage Too!

I don’t know about you guys and girls shooting but at the end of the day, I know and feel that I’ve worked my butt off to get the best images and thoroughly cover the wedding event. Why is it the S&Ber’s work so hard for so little.

Here is what I would do to enhance my sales as a S&B shooter:

  • I’d be showing sample albums in all price ranges.
  • I’d be stressing the significance and importance of family albums to moms and dads, grandparents, god-parents, bridesmaids, etc.
  • I’d be showing how cool an album layout of images could look on an iPad.
  • I’d be suggesting that an album “slide show” on their Facebook page could be kind of cool.
  • I’d be offering album design services for albums from small to big, inexpensive to top of the line.
  • I’d be offering S&B sessions for the new babies to be coming along around the couple’s anniversary.
  • I’d be giving everyone of my clients their very own set of business cards featuring one of their favorite images with my branding prominently positioned on the front of the card.
  • I’d be offering image enhancement services – good, better, best – as an add-on to my S&B services.  This is an easy “sell” – who wants to be looking bad on Facebook.
  • I’d be offering a “Top 10 Special” a more expansive, image enhancement service on the clients top 10 favorite images. Now they’ll really look good on Facebook and in all the prints they’re going to print up at Wal-Mart.
  • I would constantly be looking for ways for me to continue to interact with my clients down the road in order to continue to build on those sales.

We all work REALLY hard when shooting a wedding – why walk away from all the potential sales opportunities!?

Folks, you know it as well as I do.  This list could go on forever.  You probably have some great ideas too.  Why not post them in the Comments section below for the benefit of all our DPT readers.

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  It’s been quite a week.  I’m really stoked about the new Lightroom 4 BETA release and want to spend more time on that over the weekend.  I’m sure I’ll have more news next week after I’ve had a chance to poke around underLR4’s hood a bit more.

How about I see everyone sometime tomorrow for a short post leading into the weekend.

Hope to see you then,

David

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Saving Grace”

Saving Grace1 (1)

"Saving Grace"
©David A. Ziser

This is one of my favorite images from a recent outdoor senior portrait session. I love the direct gaze of the young lady right back into the camera. She looks quietly strong and confident as she makes eye contact with the viewer.

The style of the clothing, the colors, the white jacket, the soft, out of focus background all enhance the final composition which speaks to that quiet confidence.

Lighting was with my off camera flash through my Zumbrella  creating the desired direction of light and balancing with the ambient light.

Camera specs; Canon 40D fitted with 70-200mm IS lens at 110mm, F 5.0 at 1/125 second, ISO 800, JPEG. Enjoy! -David

Today It’s All About Lightroom 4!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Lightroom 4 is introducing some very cool new features. Much better integration with video is one of those features. The other is the new Book module which let's you design albums and picture books effortlessly.

But, it's understanding how these two features can work together that open up a whole slew of new possibilities for the wedding/portrait photographer. Hit the PLAY button on this video to see what I mean.

Enjoy! -David

 

Also let me also point you towards some great links to get you up to speed with Lightroom 4’s new features – all very cool!

Julieanne LR4 videos1. Here’s the “skinny” from Adobe on all the new features, improvements and system requirements for Lightroom 4 – a good outline of what to expect. [link]

2. Julieanne Kost has several short videos highlighting the latest greatest features of LR4 – always an entertaining and informative presentation. [link]

Scott and Matt LR43. Our good buddies Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski have 11 videos also pointing out the new and best features of LR4 Beta. [link]

4.  Here’s Scott’s and Matt’s quick cheat-sheet that you can save or download for LR4 too. [link]

Photoshop Cafe5. Photoshop CafĂ© also has four nice tutorials on the subject – these were actually the first ones I watched – enjoy. [link]

6. My good buddy, Kerry Garrison also a nice peak at the LR4 Beta. [link]

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Hey gang, that’s it for me today. 

Enjoy the video treats and the Lightroom 4 Beta download - life is good!

Se you soon, David

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Technique Tuesday : News Update!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Lightroom 4I can’t believe it’s this late in the day.  I’ve been tracking down all the news on the Lightroom 4 release and have been in meetings all day.  Instead of running the Technique Tuesday episode I was planning on running – it was going to be the first in a series – I’m postponing it till next week.

So you say, “What about this week’s Technique Tuesday???” My quick answer is that I’ll be running it tomorrow.  With the Lightroom 4 BETA launch announced today. I wanted DigitalProTalk.com to be part of the action.

Here’s the plan,  tomorrow I’m going to give you a complete rundown on all the new features and how many of them impact wedding/portrait photographers.  Lots of sites, including Kelby Training have videos posted showing many of these new features.

But there is one GLARING new feature that has been completely missed by everyone reporting on the new release. That will be the topic of tomorrow’s post – you don’t want to miss it –

It’s BIG!!!

That said gang, I’m back to checking out all the new features myself.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

-David

HOT NEWS! Lightroom 4 Beta Just Released!

Lightroom 4Hey gang, just a quick note.  Right now I’m watching Matt Kloskowski and Adobe’s Lightroom 4 product manager [link] “LIVE'” discussing Lightroom 4.  The show repeats at 12, 2, & 4 today.  Definitely worth the watch!

I’m in the process of downloading the beta right now [link] – pretty big download – 411MB – but I can’t wait to fire it up.  Lightroom 4 beta NAPPNew features include great new video features – yes, you can edit and adjust video clips; complete control with all sliders now included; interesting new Book Module; and much more!

Scott and Matt have already put up a lot of videos on the new features at Kelby Training – way cool gang. 

I’ve got to run right now – I’ll be back a bit later today. In the mean time, tune in the Kelby Training “LIVE” broadcast right here.

-David

Monday, January 9, 2012

"A Cold Winter's Morn”

A Cold Winter's Morn

"A Cold Winter's Morn”
©David A. Ziser

We were up early every morning during our trip to Orlando.  Each morning we got to watch the sunrise.  Most were beautiful but somewhat uneventful but a few were simply spectacular and others were almost surreal like you see in the image above.

It was Sunday morning the the fog had been rolling in over the last two mornings. Sunday morning was different. Yes, we got the fog but as the sun rose into the sky, the fog still hovered on the ground. 

While packing I took a quick glace out the window and caught the sight of the sun backlighting the scene and casting the eerie shadows of the barren trees and shrubs across the blanket of fog. What a cool sight.  Once again I grabbed the camera, headed to the balcony and grabbed a few more images.

I had complained a few times about the cooler than usual temperatures we were having in Florida during our trip – it even dropped to 33 degrees on one morning.  While working with this image in Photoshop the final manipulations kept pointing me to the colorized version of the scene.  Instead of being taken in Florida, it looks more like the very chilly surrounds of Minnesota in winter.

I really like the finished result.  The cascading streaks of light and shadow almost give  a brushed stroke appearance to the image. And, since I’m talking about print competition in the following post, I thought I would give it a gallery treatment as part of the finished presentation.

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 180mm, F10 @ 1/800 second, ISO 200. Enjoy! –David

Quick Hit Monday: All The Latest News; Lots Of Inspiration: and Photoshop Freebies!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Imaging USAI'm back home today and sticking around for about 4 days before we head off to New Orleans for the big Imaging USA Convention on Friday.  It was kind of nice to come back to all the Christmas decorations still decorating our home. Heck, I even caught a whiff of the pine scent still lingering from the main Christmas tree.  Alas, the job of taking it all down begins today. 

As usual, it's a busy week.  I'm finishing up guest blog posts for Rick Sammon, B&H, Datacolor; working on my Digital Newsletter which goes out this week, and trying to keep DigitalProTalk on schedule.  AND, on top of all that, I'm continuing to push the word about our PhotoPro Expo happening in only 3 weeks!  WHEW!  Let's get right to todays news.

The Latest News From PhotoPro Expo!

Win $5000One of the main events at PhotoPro Expo this year is the juried print competition [link] where you can win part of the $5,000 in prizes and trophies being awarded. Every year photographers will submit their favorite images to be judged by our esteemed panelists.  It is truly one of the best ways to improve your photography. I can remember my first print competition many years ago  – I selected my four favorite images, printed them up to 16x20 perfection, and submitted them to the jury panel. I was pretty disappointed when my highest scoring print only scored a 79, just to point shy of a 80 score blue ribbon print.

I continued submitting prints year after year in the early days of my profession and within four years was taking the top awards at the state and regional conventions. In fact, one of my images scored a perfect 100!  That was quite a thrill. It is an excellent way to compare your work to others in the photography profession. You can get all the details of this year's PhotoPro Expo Print Competition right here. 

Why Print Competition?

Print Comp1Anyway this year's PhotoPro Expo Print Competition is a wonderful opportunity for photographers to see how their images stand up against their peers. We all think we are so good until we see our work compared to other really great photographers. The excitement this year begins on February 2, the first day of our PhotoPro Expo. It's exciting to watch the prints being scored and hear the judges comments. It's easy for me to sit there for hours and just hang on every word.  I did an earlier blog post discussing what the judges are looking for in print competition [link].  If you are seriously considering entering the print competition, I suggest you give it a read right here.

Bet On The Print Scores & Win CASH!

At this year's PhotoPro Expo Print Competition we have a brand-new treat for all photographers who enjoy the judging process. This year we are hosting our Clubhouse Print Lounge where you'll be able to bet with the judges.  The photographer most closely guessing the judges’ scores has a chance to take home $50-$100 in the process. We have my good friend, Ralph Romaguera, flying all the way in from New Orleans to moderate the event. It should be a great time and a lot of fun.

Win The LexJet Award & $200 Gift Card!

Lexjet TrophyAlso this year we are offering a brand-new print award sponsored by LexJet. Any photographer submitting their entries on LexJet media will be eligible for the LexJet award which includes, not just a beautiful trophy, but also $200 in LexJet media. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for someone to take home a great prize. Lexjet has available an outstanding blog post on just what is involved to win the Lexjet award. You can find that link right here.

To be eligible to enter PhotoPro Expo Print Competition, you need to be a member of the PhotoPro Network. The cost to join is only $49 a year and there are a ton of membership benefits just for joining including being able to enter the PhotoPro Expo Print Competition. You can get all the details about PhotoPro Network VIP membership right here.

Seriously, Wedding Photography

Hey gang, I've got three great links for you today pertaining specifically to wedding photography. I found all three excellent reads. 

Denis Reggie: The State Of Wedding Photography 2012

Denis PicThe first is from a post [link] from my good friend Denis Reggie who photographs the top weddings in the country. Denis, like myself has seen wedding photography change dramatically over the many years we have both been in business. I've certainly blogged about the state of affairs here DigitalProTalk many times. Here is another great article on that topic right here from one of the industry leaders – highly recommended.

BTW, Denis will be offering complimentary portfolio reviews this Sunday afternoon at PPA ImagingUSA in New Orleans at 2:00 p.m. along with Joyce Tenneson. Please come by the Canon trade show booth with a selection of your images... laptop, iPad, or an album is fine. We hope to see you in New Orleans.

History Of Engagement Rings With 40 Wedding Ring Photography Ideas

Wedding RingsThis second link discusses the history of wedding rings.  As a wedding photographer, I've always been this interested in wedding customs not only in the United States but also around the world. I encourage you to give this quite interesting article a read right here.

In addition to picking up a little bit of history on weddings, the article also includes 40 very creative wedding ring ideas that you just may want to incorporate in your next wedding shoot. Some of these images are off-the-wall, some are quite beautiful,  but they all get the creative juices flowing  when looking for new ideas on how to photograph the wedding bands.

Winter Wedding Light Painting
I found the image below and this third link really interesting. Years ago I was photographing a Fourth of July wedding and the bride and groom asked me to find a way to use sparklers in one of my wedding photographs that illustrated the Fourth of July holiday. I set the camera on a tripod and held the shutter open while they traced the heart through the air with the burning sparklers. As they touched the sparklers together at the bottom of the “heart” I fired my off-camera flash, had them kiss, and got a great image.

Winter SparksThe photographer featured in this post, Danny Turcotte Jr., used something completely different – steel wool. Yes, that's what I said steel wool. I didn't even know that you could set fire to a piece of steel wool but apparently you can. Anyway he came up with this great wedding photograph – why not give a read right here on exactly how he did it.

So What Have You Done Lately – A Little Inspiration 

One of the highlights of my week is to peruse Zite on my iPad and find interesting sources of photographic inspiration and then share that information with you, our DigitalProTalk readers. This week I have three great links that I think you'll really, really enjoy. 

Top 20 Young Photographers 2012

Faye Thompson picThe first features the top 20 young photographers of 2012.  Check out the link right here to see what some of these new top guns, like 21 year old Faye Thompson above are accomplishing photographically. As I look through the list, and yes, you will recognize a few of the names, it sure puts me in awe of the talent these young photographers exude.

As you review this list of wonderfully talented photographers, I also want to point out that PhotoPro Expo’s very own Lindsay Adler is featured in this list. Yes, Lindsay is one of the speakers presenting at our PhotoPro Expo in just three weeks. Her fashion work is truly amazing. She has an eye for color and composition that rivals the best of the best. I sure hope you can check out her program here at PhotoPro Expo in three weeks.

44 Beautiful Eyes Photography

EyesI also enjoyed looking through the images of this link. You know, a person's eyes other Windows on the world. How we photograph a person's eyes is important in capturing the essence of our portrait subject.  Each of these images [link], captures something truly special in each one of the subjects featured in this post.

10 Beautiful Landscape Photos From Chip Phillips

LandscapesAnd finally, some of the most inspirational links that I find feature landscape photography. There's a lot of great landscape photographers but the images featured in this post are just absolutely amazing. I always enjoy making landscape photographs myself as we tour around the country and the world. I just wish that when I press the button that occasionally what I capture is something similar to these incredibly beautiful images featured in this post today.

Photoshop Freebies

Cloud EffectsI got some great Photoshop freebies for you today. Just consider it is my New Year's gift to all of our DigitalProTalk readers.  All kidding aside, I think there's some great resources  that we can all use on or 2012 projects. Enjoy!

  • 30 Free Photoshop Actions Which Never Fails To Amaze: [link]
  • 25 Useful Dirt Texture Collection: [link]
  • 80 All-You-Need Photoshop Brushes: [link]

Thanks to H.W Capps, one of our DPT readers, for sharing the link with me to share with you.

One For The Road; 20 Mile High Flying, and Dropping iPads

I don't know about you but I'm just not a huge fan of watching lots of YouTube videos. But, every now and then one comes along that captures my attention.

iPad Survives 100,000+ Foot Fall From Space

The iPad from spaceThis YouTube video posted by Mashable [link] shows how they used a weather balloon to carry an iPad about 20 miles in the air just at the edge of space then pop the balloon and let the iPad drop 20 miles back to earth.

It's a fascinating video because they filmed both the accent and the much more rapid descent of the iPad. Their entire balloon apparatus also included  GPS devices that they could use to track where the iPad finally landed.

It was amazing to me that after rising nearly 20 miles into the air and then dropping 20 miles back to earth, that the iPad landed only about 70 feet from where they had released it.  To have such little drift over that 40 mile iPad journey the wind sure must've been nearly non-excitant.  Anyway, like I said, I don't watch many YouTube videos but the scientific aspects of this one  piqued my curiosity, hope you enjoy it too.

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Hey gang that's it for me today. I have Tom Nickell, CEO of Delux Gear, stopping by for a visit. Delux Gear is a brand-new company and is producing some very fascinating photography gear for the wedding and portrait photographer.  I can't wait to see what Tom has to show. I'll fill you in on our visit in tomorrow's post.


Have a great rest of the day and I'll see everybody tomorrow for a brand-new episode of Technique Tuesday: 5 Fabulous, Fantastic, Fun Ways To Super Cool Backgrounds.

See you then, David